Switching from textbook based teaching to TCI

Here is a helpful infographic that will give you some information and steps to follow during the transition. The transition process could be overwhelming so try to practice one skill at a time. Start with the basics, like the art of circling and then add more advanced activities to your repertoire.My personal advice is to start with TCI/TPRS curriculum already published and slowly find out how to make it your own. I see a lot of people going through hell by trying to learn a new methodology and creating all new materials at the same time. They get so exhausted that they eventually end up going back to their comfort zone. Also, although it is not mentioned in the infographic, when I was going through the transition process,  I read lots of books about this method ( I recommend TPRS in a  Year by Ben Slavic, and Fluency Through TPR Storytelling by Blaine Ray ). So every time I was having second thoughts, I would remember the theory and research behind this approach.

the-switch-infographic (3)




Lessons learned

This is my eight-year teaching and learning how to teach. Four years ago, I changed from a textbook-grammar based instruction to TCI. The first time I attempted this method I failed, I mean I bombed like a stand-up comedian who said a bad joke and nobody laughed. So what did I do? I went back to my comfort zone, the textbook. At the end of the semester, I gave my students an end of the semester survey . I was surprised when the vast majority of my students said they “really enjoyed when I told them stories and we did gestures.”

Lessons learned :

I  failed the first time I attempted TCI/TPRS but failure turned out to be a great teacher.

TCI/TPRS is effective even when it’s done poorly.

The following year, I was committed only to do TCI/TPRS, but I didn’t have the money to attend a workshop. So I googled, and I googled and then googled some more. I found Bryce Hedstrom’s website. I felt like I hit the jackpot! Bryce has so many wonderful resources some are free and some you have to buy. I spent about $15.00 that day, and I downloaded all the freebies. I used Bryce’s observation checklist to reflect on my teaching practice. (I still use it, and I gave it to my principal so he can use it during our formal observation.) Then, I clicked on all the people he follows, and I found a community of TCI practitioners willing to share lessons, materials, failures and successes.

Lessons learned:

There’s information is out there.

TCI/TPRS teachers are very generous.

 Bryce Hedstrom’s observation sheet is a great tool for beginners.

That year, I tried different activities some of those worked and some didn’t. I still made some terrible mistakes. I was telling stories to my students rather than “asking them stories” and I was also rushing my stories too much and trying to keep all the details of the stories the same. Still, my students were USING and remembering the language. I was doing this all on my own; I didn’t want anyone at school to know I wasn’t following the curriculum. Halfway through the semester, I was exhausted, but I was very happy with the results.

Lessons learned:

You will make mistakes but you will get better.

I still didn’t have any money for training. I discovered recorded lessons on youtube. In my opinion, observing teachers is what helped me to improve my TCI/TPRS teaching practice. The first video I watched was Michele Whaley teaching Russian. I have just read Ben Slavic book, but I understood circling and going slow after watching this video (I guess I,m a visual-experiential learner.) I found other videos by Susan Gross and Carol Gaab, I watched the videos, I took notes and then I tried what I learned with my class. Sometimes, I tried three different strategies all at once, and that was overwhelming to me and confusing to my students.

Lessons learned: 

YouTube allows you to observe teachers without ever leaving your classroom. 

Try one strategy at the time. 

I have to go to the Gym now, but later I will tell about the first time I met Jason Fritze.


In my French 1 classes we have been watching Téléfrançais videos to hear others French speakers, to practice listening comprehension, to learn new vocabulary, and to practice speaking French . We watched episodes 1-15 and episode 2o (We skipped episode 16-19 because after Sophie left the show my students were devastated.)The show is very silly and yes it was created for younger children but still my students absolutely LOVE IT! Each episode last nine to ten minutes but teaching each episode can take up to 35 to 40 minutes of class.
Before we watch each episode students read a summary of the episode and or we review what happened in the previous episode. While watching the episode  and pretty much after each scene, I pause it and and we talk about it. Then I check for comprehension and asses vocabulary we’ve learned. In Each episode you can find a topic to generate meaningful discussion with your students. For instance, in episode 20 we talked about our dreams and our favorite video games.
Here is a sample lesson. Please let me know how to improve it. Ideas are always welcome!

Telefrançais 15